HONG KONG • The national security law that China could impose on Hong Kong as early as this week will not need to be used if the city’s residents avoid crossing certain “red lines”, a top adviser to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said yesterday.
“It really is to warn people: Do not cross those red lines, you cannot ask for Hong Kong independence and we do not tolerate terrorist acts like what happened last year during the social unrest,” Mr Bernard Chan, a convener of Hong Kong’s advisory Executive Council, said.
“As long as people abide by the law, I suppose we never have to use this piece of legislation,” said Mr Chan, who is one of Hong Kong’s deputies to the National People’s Congress, which is drafting the law.
Mr Chan, who has not seen a draft of the law, said it will not be retrospective and that Hong Kong’s foreign judges will still be able to rule on sensitive cases. Any US sanctions issued in response to the new law would be “lose-lose”, he said.
Chinese lawmakers are meeting in Beijing to discuss the national security legislation, which would bar subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in the former British colony.
A vote could come today, a day before the anniversary of the city’s handover to China in 1997, Now TV News reported.
China’s surprise announcement in late May that it was moving to bypass the local legislature and force security legislation on the city prompted a resurgence of protests that rocked the financial hub last year but had mostly dissipated because of the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the main organisers of Hong Kong’s huge protest marches last year, the Civil Human Rights Front, has been denied police permission for a large rally on July 1.
The day is traditionally marked by protests and will be particularly sensitive this year with the likely passing of the security law.
The proposed law will have a life sentence for convictions on secession and subversion charges, Now TV reported this weekend, citing unidentified people. Radio Television Hong Kong had previously reported that sentences would range between three and 10 years and would be largely in line with Hong Kong’s criminal laws.